The Dirección Nacional de los Espacios Acuáticos (DIRNEA) has organized a workshop on 8-9 July 2020 to kick start Ecuador’s participation in the GloFouling Partnerships project.
The issue represented by biofouling and invasive aquatic species (IAS) is very important to Ecuador, especially in the Galapagos Islands. This archipelago and its immense marine reserve are known as the unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ and should be protected from potential invasive aquatic species. Since 2019 scientists have identified more than 53 non-native species in the Galapagos marine environment. Monitoring and research has now been expanded and includes the continent: settlement plates have been installed at the primary ports of Galapagos Islands (Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal) and mainland Ecuador (Salinas, Guayaquil, and Manta) to detect any invasive species.
During the opening remarks, Rear Admiral Lenin Sánchez Miño (National Director of Aquatic Spaces) highlighted the importance of this workshop for Ecuador as an opportunity to lead the efforts in Latin America to protect the coastal areas and to find sustainable solutions that could be replicated in the region.
The National workshop was originally planned for March 2020 but had to be postponed due to the travel and face to face meeting restrictions worldwide, caused by COVID-19 outbreak. However, despite these difficult circumstances Ecuador adapted promptly to the 'new normal' and decided to organize the workshop virtually, this being the first workshop conducted online by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with a Member State.
The workshop included the first meeting of the National Task Force composed of the key stakeholders in the biofouling and IAS related fields. During the meeting, the group discussed the challenges and opportunities related to the development of a national strategy and action plan to implement the IMO Biofouling Guidelines. The next steps on how to develop a national strategy, which will be used to tackle the issue of invasive aquatic species being introduced through biofouling in Ecuador, were also discussed and agreed upon.
Dr. Inti Keith from the Charles Darwin Foundation is leading the program for Galapagos in collaboration with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center & Charles Darwin Foundation. During the meeting, Dr Keith presented the monitoring carried out in the Galapagos Islands, the activities in progress and biological link with the continental region. During her intervention, Dr. Gladys Torres highlighted the important impacts of invasive species on production costs of the shrimp industry in the Gulf of Guayaquil.
Over forty participants from across the country participated virtually, representing stakeholders such as the Regional Technical Coordinator of the Comisión Permanente del Pacífico Sur (CPPS); the Ecuadorian Navy; the port authority of Ecuador and shipyard representatives; aquaculture and environmental authorities; academia; and the private sector. From the United Kingdom, the GloFouling project coordination unit participated to convey key aspects of the issue and explain the activities that will be provided by the project.
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